Bonsai is often seen as an indoor plant. Although it may
survive indoor, it actually is not.
Although bonsai is more relevant to a Tea-garden we have grown a few. We are little puristic about this and rarely try to force them into a particular shape.
Most of them did not survive the nursing received during our vacations. From time to time we give it a try.
Only in 2007 the book "Niwaki"  was published. I have not seen a western book that addresses these techniques on pruning, trimming, training and clipping of trees and shrubs in the Japanese garden. Therefore we have previously used literature on Bonsai for the technique of pruning, clipping and training and for selection of plants  in our garden.
These are some of the surviving bonsai. The oak at
the left (Quercus robur)
was grown from an acorn we
found in nature and dates back to 1987 (18 years of age in
2005, this photo).
The two in the pot on the right are of 2004.
This survivor has deserved a place of its own
Many pages are written about the subject of bonsai soil. For that we point to the related links at the bottom of this page.
As a guideline for bonsai soil we use a standard mixture of 1/3 potting-soil, 1/3 sand (or grit) and 1/3 clay or loam, that we find plenty in our garden and surrounding.
On top we mostly put a local moss. For mosses see: Mosses and lichen.
Twice a year we give them some organic (cow) fertilizer. We put that in-between the mossy-soil and the edge of the pot. In this way the moss will not get damaged.
For sure you can do better then this (see links below) but so far we are satisfied with the results of this approach.
|This is a one year Taxus that we found under the Prunis Lusistanica (May 2008).||Here in close-up.||Now see if we can transform this into a bonsai.|
In the spring of 2007 we found a chestnut-nut
in the adjacent wood.
This is the result after one year. See how and if we can keep it small enough. As the photo shows, this youngster already has adult-size leafs which makes it less suitable as a bonsai.
Although we don´t wanted to grow a genuine bonsai we want to see how it develops more like a (larger size) tree in a pot. For that reason we did not use a grow-inhibiting mixture but just common potting soil.
Potting soil is a different story and even depends on the pot-size. The soil requirements are also different for a full grown tree and the youngsters. In all cases soil must drain quickly, but still retain water, otherwise a long and sunny weekend away from home may already lead to damage when you can not water them every other day or so.
What is also important in relation to this is how much attention you can give them and where they are placed and your weather conditions. A good compromise can be 60/70% potting soil to 40/30% pea gravel and cover it with Peat moss, gravel or mulch (what is most aesthetic for you) on top, so as to temper evaporation. Be aware that the pot must have a drainage hole. What works well for us is using soil that is used for bonsai, but with less clay and loam. The soil should not be too dense as that will inhibit the growth (good for keeping bonsai small). Most important is that the soil remains damp.
In the above chestnut pot we also had a
seedling. This was a "left over" of the
the left side compartment that died in
2007/2008 (see: Recent Activities) and was replaced by
Thuja occidentalis "Braband".
During the winter of 2008 we moved it from the chestnut-pot into its own, bonsai-pot. The photo shows how it looked in spring 2009 with in the backdrop the Ginshanada gravel.
Rather than covering the soil with moss, in this case we used the smallest groundcover we have in the garden, Leptinella minor (see: Groundcovers ). Here it just started to settle and grow.